Pickleball, a sport that is fun, social and somewhat addictive, is also a fast-growing business with no signs of slowing down. Longtime commercial real estate and business entrepreneurs Brian and Valerie McCarthy along with business partner Matthew Gordon have seized the opportunity to be part of the sport’s explosion by investing $180 million for 15 indoor private pickleball clubs in Florida, the first being The Pickleball Club right here in Lakewood Ranch which opened on May 5th of this year. The team currently has seven other clubs under development around the state in Port St Lucie, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Venice, Pinellas Park, the Villages and Wellington, with plans for Orlando and Bradenton.

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

Since opening, the response in Lakewood Ranch has been overwhelmingly positive. “We opened with 400 members and are already approaching 550 members and we expect a waiting list when the snowbirds return this year,” shares Brian. “We even had one couple who were so concerned they might miss out so they joined in July even though they won’t return to Sarasota until December.” Originally from Michigan, Brian McCarthy has had a 30 year military career in the Navy, achieving the rank of Rear Admiral. With an MBA from Harvard and a career as a commercial real estate developer, he’s very familiar with turning large properties into valuable business. Valerie McCarthy, President and Chief Operating Officer (and Brian’s wife) has a Master’s degree in exercise physiology and has been in the health industry her entire life. A former executive director for the YMCA, she oversees the member experience at the Club. Matt Gordon, a New York attorney with a passion for investment banking is the chief financial officer who has helped the McCarthy’s develop a strong business plan. And new to the leadership team this fall is General Manager Scott Brynski, former general manager of The Bird Key Yacht Club, who has recently returned to Sarasota from Buffalo, New York. 

The biggest appeal of the Pickleball Club is that it offers the opportunity to play in perfect conditions all year round. The courts are custom built exclusively for pickleball with a cushioned court surface on all 12 indoor courts, two covered outdoor courts and two bocce courts. Club amenities include Pickles Café, Dinks Pro Shop, locker rooms with showers, plenty of seating and a multi-functional observation area.

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

“Our Pickles Café and Dinks Pro Shop have already outpaced expectations and the demand for instruction has increased dramatically,” shares Brian. “Our Pickleball Academy and Summer Youth programs were at capacity and Pickleball Club University for adults has been a phenomenal success. Our staff of six instructors has been very busy meeting the demand.”

This summer, the Club hosted a Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) certification course and a  Play for A Cause tournament in which a portion of proceeds was donated to the Play for Life Foundation, supporting youth, veterans and first responders. Upcoming events include a two-day intermediate camp December 8-9 for 3.0 – 4.5 players. 

The Lakewood Ranch Pickleball Club is a member-only, privately-owned, for-profit sports club. Investment opportunities are still available. Visit ThePickleballClub.com to learn more.  LL

The Pickleball Club, 1195 Sarasota Center Blvd, Sarasota. 941-271-4444, https://www.tpclwr.us/